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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America Strikes Back: Northern Alliance Holding Defensive Positions

Aired October 8, 2001 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: Let's begin by checking the latest developments as America strikes back.

Anti-U.S. demonstrators rallied in several Pakistani cities today following the first wave of the attacks on Afghanistan. A pall of smoke hung over the western city Quetta after demonstrators burned tires and set a movie theater on fire.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Explosions lit up the night sky over Kabul as U.S. and British forces began the military campaign to root out suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden and destroy his base. There is no immediate word on damage. The Pentagon plans to use spy planes and surveillance satellites today to determine the success of the first night of attacks.

CALLAWAY: And U.S. forces track the progress of two C-17 aircraft that dropped emergency rations over Afghanistan as part of a humanitarian relief effort. Officials say the airdrops will continue over the next few days.

HARRIS: Now we have heard reports within the last hour or so from our reporters who are there in Afghanistan -- in Northern Afghanistan that the Northern Alliance forces are out there trying to assess damage on their own to find out exactly how much damage was done last night by the air strikes.

Our Matthew Chance checks in now. He's got the latest for us on the situation there in Northern Afghanistan -- Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Leon, that's right, and it could be a new opportunity for the Northern Alliance, of course at the expenses -- expense of the Taliban. Throughout the day on the front lines over there north of Kabul there's been incessant artillery barrages going both ways. Also a lot of heavy machine gun fire.

Northern Alliance commanders, though, say they've been ordered by their political leadership to hold their ground at this stage, not to move further into any Taliban-controlled territory even though, of course, Taliban forces last night came under heavy attack indeed. Well, Northern Alliance commanders say that their political leadership are in close contact with the United States to decide on what to do next in the military strategy side of things. Of course, obviously there could be more air strikes but also there is a possibility there could be some order given for these Northern Alliance forces to move forward towards Kabul, of course the ultimate prize for these fighters -- Leon.

HARRIS: Well, Matthew, what kind of indication are they giving you about what it is they will be doing next for sure?

CHANCE: Well, for sure they're going to be holding their defensive positions, they say. They've got these very well established front lines, some of which are only a few hundred meters from Taliban forces, that essentially cut off this northeastern corner of Afghanistan from the rest of the 90 percent of the country or so which is held by the Taliban. They're just holding their positions right now to see what the United States does next so they can plan their own military strategy -- Leon.

HARRIS: All right, Matthew, and what about any coordination between their troops and U.S. or British forces that are actually there -- either there or on the way there or attacking from the skies or whatever? There have been so many questions about the kind of coordination there may actually be here. What have you learned about that?

CHANCE: Well, I mean officials here from the Northern Alliance say that there is a daily contact with U.S. officials. They apparently are talking about a whole range of options, including various military options that would involve some form of cooperation perhaps with American special forces and Northern Alliance fighters here on the ground. The detail, though, is being kept very secret at the moment. There's no discussion being held in a public forum about what exactly the possibilities are. All the Northern Alliance are telling us is that they're in close contact and they intend to fully cooperate with the -- with the United States forces, at least as far in terms of giving them intelligence information about the situation and this landscape -- Leon.

HARRIS: All right, Matthew Chance reporting for us live this morning from Northern Afghanistan. Thank you very much.

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